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Public may question experts about disease that mostly affects Arizonans

SURPRISE, Ariz. - March 15, 2010 - Health care professionals, epidemiologists and scientists well-versed in Valley Fever will appear from 5-7 p.m. March 26 on a "Meet the Experts" panel at Surprise City Hall.

The event is open to the public. Panelists will give brief presentations about Valley Fever and then open the discussion for questions. The question-and-answer session will be rebroadcast on Surprise 11 and online at www.surpriseaz.com/surprise11.

The proposed order of speakers is:

Epidemiology: Peter Kelly, M.D., Arizona Department of Health Services
Clinical Disease Overview: Janis Blair, M.D., Mayo Clinic
Vaccine and Drug Update: John Galgiani, M.D., Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Veterinary Update: Michael Matz, D.V.M.
Patient Testimony: Richard Alton, City of Surprise Vice Mayor

The medical name for Valley Fever is coccidioidomycosis, which often is shortened to cocci (pronounced KOK-SEE), meaning a fungal infection (mycosis) caused by the fungus Coccidioides.

Valley Fever is prevalent in the hot, desert regions of southern Arizona, especially in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. The Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona reports that an estimated two-thirds of U.S. Valley Fever cases are in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties.

In most cases, the symptoms of Valley Fever are like a mild flu. Most people who contract the disease do not see a doctor. Symptoms include fatigue, cough, fever, profuse sweating at night, loss of appetite, chest pain, and generalized muscle and joint aches particularly of the ankles and knees.

The "Meet the Experts" presentation is the public portion of the March 26-27 international meeting of the Coccidioidomycosis Study Group. Conference organizers include the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Mayo Clinic Arizona.

"Valley Fever is a real concern in Arizona as it affects tens of thousands of residents every year," said David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North in Flagstaff and a former Arizona State Epidemiologist. "We are fortunate to have some of the world's top researchers available here this month to directly discuss this disease with local citizens."

Also on hand during the March 26 public discussion will be representatives of the Valley Fever Alliance, which raises funds and awareness in support of the University of Arizona's Valley Fever Center For Excellence in their search for a cure, and the Arizona Victims of Valley Fever. For more information, contact www.tinyurl.com/valleyfeveralliance.

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About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
[email protected]

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